The Godden: In You I See Me

As we grow as pagans, there are many ways our practice and our liturgical language changes over time, and it is important to regularly evaluate and reflect on them. Not only does this allow us to make sure our work still aligns with our values, but it also make sure that it is accurate to our theology and praxis.

Over the past 8 months or so I’ve been evaluating my language around how we call the deities into our rites and into our lives. During a couple of our recording sessions (episodes 16 & 17) for the Druids in Cars, Going to Festivals podcast, Rev. Dangler and I talked with Corbin, one of our grove members who is trans. He was explaining about how our liturgical language often excludes him, how calling to the gods and goddesses leaves a huge hole where those who aren’t represented within the gender binary are ignored.

Everyone deserves to see the divine within themselves and to see themselves represented within the divine. When we use gender exclusive language to describe our deities, we are shutting members of our folk out of that relationship. And, especially as priests, that is emphatically NOT OKAY.  You may say “but this is how we’ve always done things” or “we already use the term ‘Shining Ones’ or ‘Deities’ to describe them collectively” or “well, what else would you call them other than gods and goddesses?”

Enter the title “Godden”. It was floated in early 2003 as a way to address “gods without gender, both genders, changing genders, or somewhere people haven’t thought of going yet.” It’s seems well-suited to also address somewhere that people haven’t found names for yet. Unsurprisingly, those who were interested in non-binary language drifted away from the center of the conversations and the term was forgotten in the depths of our email archives. It wasn’t until Rev. Dangler mentioned it during that podcast recording that I’d heard of it.

Our understanding of the way people identify in relation to their gender has evolved since 2003 (and earlier) and we’ve come to see the many beautiful ways that people can comfortably exist in their own skin. As we’ve learned the different ways of addressing ourselves and each other, so too does it make sense that we need to learn new language to address the Deities. With this new language we can call out to those Shining Ones who don’t fit neatly within a binary, and when they appear to us we can see ourselves reflected in their love.

A Child of Earth calls out to the Godden,
You who share your love with me.
I see you in the rising sun and in the setting moon.
And in you I see me.
I see you running the forest trails and tending the fields.
And in you I see me.
I see you in the rising surf and in the murmuring stream.
And in you I see me.
I see you flitting on the wind and burning in the flames.
And in you I see me.
I see you singing sweet songs and melting away the dross.
And in you I see me.
I call out, that I might see your bright visage
So clear and bright that I can see my reflection in you.
Shining Godden, hold me in your loving embrace,
And be a perfect mirror of me.
Shining Godden, I call out to you: be with me now!

[This post was originally posted over on my Patreon. Help support my work by becoming a patron, and get a first look at posts like this, as well as patron only content.]

7 thoughts on “The Godden: In You I See Me

  1. Lovely! This has been on my mind, too. I’ve worked to refer to deities in ritual as much as possible rather than the more binary gods and goddesses. I like the addition of godden.

    I’d like your thoughts. My grove and I really like the chant, “Hail all the Gods.” I tried to write a more gender neutral chant, but it wasn’t as catchy. Do think “Hail all the gods, hail all the goddesses, hail all the holy ones, we dwell together” is neutral enough with the “holy ones” as a third, inclusive category? Perhaps we could stretch out “godden” instead of “holy ones?”

    • I’ve used “Deities” and “Shining Ones”, and those are nice and gender neutral, but seem to refer to the collective of all deities. Same with “Holy Ones”. In contrast “Gods” refers to the male ones, “Goddesses” to the female ones, and “Godden” to the non-binary ones. I think having that third category is really helpful, and speaks very intimately to those who identify as something other than the binary genders.

      As far as trying to come up with a way to revise that chant… I’m not sure. My brain isn’t really coming up with a good way for that. Godden doesn’t really scan well, and wouldn’t be included in the last line of the chant in any case.

  2. […] You do certainly see a lot of that [binary thinking/practice] in paganism, and it is one of the things I personally struggle with about it, being non-binary myself.  The biggest place you can see the expansion of gender within ADF Druidry is in the calls to the deities.  When we call out to the Shining Ones in Three Cranes Grove we call to the “Gods, Goddesses, and Godden”.  The Godden are specifically those deities that don’t fit neatly into the binary of gods and goddesses.  (I wrote an article about the term here)  […]

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